Have you ever done something despite the sinking feeling that you have no business doing it? I’m not so much talking about an act of immorality as I am an act of stupidity. Leading up to the point of no return, the reasonable part of your brain, the part responsible for self-preservation and the general living state of your body, pleads, “STAHHHHP;” while the senseless side of you, the side that would carpe-diem the crap out of the world if turned completely loose, screams, “GOOOOOO!” You know what the smart choice would be, but you also know what the FUN choice would be! So what do you do? Which side do you ultimately listen to? Psh. The ladder, of course. Whether it’s that last glass of wine at the end of a heavy night or the dare-devil sports move we pull to prove we’ve “still got it,” we’ve all been there. More than once. Usually to wind up regretting it somewhere down the road.
As for me, my latest journey to the corner of what-am-I-doing and welp-it’s-too-late-now was back on October 18, 2014. Despite having only ever hiked for a maximum of 5 hours straight, I decided it would be fun to complete the 13-hour trek across the 7 peaks of Dinosaur Ridge in Seoraksan National Park. Or, as I now fondly remember it, Seor-OW-ksan National Park (in addition to the pictures below, click here to view a video of my day on the mountains!).
As fun as it was, it also got to be incredibly painful! About halfway through the day my knees were ready to buckle and my toes were screaming with discontent. And by the time dinner came around I wasn’t able to walk properly…but it was worth it! The views along the ridge were absolutely magnificent, and the tree colors were stunning throughout the valley.
Perhaps what I enjoyed most about the whole experience, though, was the surreal feeling of walking through a place that, up until then, I had only seen pictures of. On the one hand, it looked exactly as I had expected and hoped it would. On the other, it still felt like I was looking at it for the first time. Similar to when a little kid finally meets a live Disney character, there was a sense of familiarity mixed awe and wonder which produced an exhilarating affirmation that ‘yes, this is actually real.’
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, no amount of surreal-ness could save me from the consequences of hiking that far for that long. I was pleasantly surprised and eternally grateful that all of my toenails remained in tact, despite the brutal beat down I had given them. But I was pretty sure I had left my calf muscles somewhere on the mountain once I sat down on the bus.
And yet, after dinner, as I lay on the sleeping mat, stiff as a board and completely immobile with knees that felt like pulsating grapefruits, I was glad I did it. I had let my senseless side win out over reason, and with any luck I won’t need physical aches and pains to remind me of the awesome time I had.
I still have a souvenir book of Disney character signatures from when I was little, and I won’t soon forget this latest surreal experience either.